Quarterfinals day in Linz for the Upper Austria Ladies Linz 2017. After a long day of matches and great show, we collected the best quotes from some of the protagonists. In today’s matches, Mihaela Buzarnescu won a great marathon against coming back girl Belinda Bencic (6-4 5-7 7-6) and will face Barbora Strycova in semifinal, who beat Tatjana Maria 6-1 6-3. The other semifinal will be among Magdalena Rybarikova, 1st seed, who beat Sorana Cirstea 5-7 6-2 6-1, and Viktorija Golubic, 2016 runner up, who found again his best form in Linz, beating today Johanna Larsson 6-3 6-1. Here’s the words of Buzarnescu, Strycova, Bencic and Golubic.
You played an awesome match, a rollercoaster match, and it was also great to watch for spectators. You were 5-2 in second set, you had 3 straight match points, then you lost the set and you were 5-2 also in the third set before the final tiebreak. Tell us about you win.
When I had the match points in second set I should have won at the first one when I had the chance to. Then in other occasions she played really well and she didn’t give me the chance to close playing with the right tactic. A lot depended on my match today, cause if I won I could ask for a special exempt for the Luxembourg WTA main draw and if not I was supposed to drive tonight and probably playing two matches on Sunday. Everything in my mind was so messed up [smile].
This is for sure the best win of career, I mean she was top10. I know she got injured and she just came back and she is not playing at the same level as before at the moment. For me this win means a lot also for the way I made it, with a third set and also a final tiebreak.
And when Belinda hit out last forehand on the final match point I finally screamed, actually I screamed for the first time after a match point here in Linz. I was so relieved after all those thoughts and all the match point. I was like ‘OMG I am in a WTA semifinal’… I just hope more is about to come [smile].
If anyone told you, before coming here in Linz, that you would have sit here, talking with us after reaching the semifinal…
…it actually happened! [laughter] My coach, from Poland, was telling me this and of course it was a joke. I didn’t even believe to pass qualies, I was coming from team matches in Romania and they were on clay courts. I was like ‘Ok, she believes in me, let’s see how it goes match by match’. It’s simply amazing! And I didn’t play that often indoor in my career… but indoor seems ok for me I think, I should play more often [laughter].
You look a very emotional player on court. Is it something that helps you during the match, when you get angry or you scream?
I think it actually helps me, but I also think it would be better to work on that [smile]. It helps to forget bad shots, to move on and think to next points.
Does the rise of Simona Halep help new young generations of tennis players in Romania?
Yeah, it is definitely true. Since Simona Halep is winning so much, tennis got so popular in Romania. Young kids want to play tennis, new tennis club have born. People know more about tennis and not only about soccer. Women seem to have better results… and to be honest I think we women are more serious on court than men [laughter]. It’s true! But also the generally quit early cause they decide to study and graduate. I really think and I really hope I can be an example for other players who are in a similar position. Players who wants to quit: I think that if you really want it and you really believe in yourself, you just have to keep trying and playing, the results will come, no matter the age.
Semifinal in singles, semifinal in doubles, top100 in both… and from Linz you will go home with a nice cheque. Do you know how much money you won?
No I don’t. I don’t check schedule, draws, so not even prize money nor anything [laughter]. But I think I will buy a nice present to my parents. They support me and they are with me since I was very young, my father has always been my coach and if it wasn’t for him I would have played tennis. I owe them everything. I don’t know what to buy to them, maybe I need to play more tournaments to get a good amount of money [laughter]. I can focus also on some of my hobbies, like reading or skiing.
About skiing, Winter Olympics are coming…
…yeah I should start training and go there for Romania! [smile] Well no, I am not that good of course, but I like it a lot, almost every year I go skiing cause it relaxes me a lot. I like skiing but I don’t have time to watch competitions, so I am not familiar with races or skiers. I actually never skied in Austria! I would like it a lot!
A very solid match today for you.
I felt solid on court today. I had to be focused since Tatjana Maria is a very tricky opponent and you have to move very well. I did that and I did what I needed with my legs. I served very well also and overall it was a good performance. I had to be aggressive, I played many serve&volleys but I had to be patience without rushing rallies. I just felt good and I’m happy to be in semifinal.
Next opponent it’s Buzarnescu. I think it is never easy to play against player you don’t know. How do you usually collect information about this kind of opponents?
Usually it’s my coach who collects information, but I also like to look by myself and see with my eyes. I know little bit about Buzarnescu, I have to be honest and today was the first time I’ve seen her on court. She must be tired cause she played many tough matches, but you have to be careful cause when you have many matches in your belt you feel confident and when you are confident you play well in important matches. It is surely going to be a tough match tomorrow.
Buzarnescu already though twice to quit tennis. We know you once thought about it.
Yeah, I thought about it. I know my time is coming but doing that step is not easy. I am getting older and older, I feel more tired but I still have many things to show. So I can say my times is not arrived yet [smile]. So, no. I am not quitting [laughter].
There is a bee representing you often. Is a sort of nickname? Who made it up?
Yes, it’s my nickname. To be honest, in the past I played many times doubles with Iveta Benesova and she made it up at that time, it was 2011 or 2012. And since then people call me ‘bee’ [smile].
Tomorrow Mats Wilander and Barbara Schett will play a mixed doubles exhibition together here. Who would be your first pick as mixed doubles partner in ATP?
You are asking me if I had to pick him up for how he looks or for how he plays tennis? [laughter] I would pick… Roger Federer. And yeah, he suits both look and play, I know [laughter].
We are asking to other players about their talents. For example Magdalena Rybarikova can keepie uppie a tennis ball for 260 times…
…yeah, I can do 4 [laughter]. So no, that’s not my talent.
So which is your special talent?
OMG, I think I am not talented [laughter]. Actually I like to dance. I don’t know if it is a talent, I just like to do it and that’s it.
Non-tennis related. Winter Olympics are coming soon and Czech Republic is good in winter sports. First of all, do you follow winter sports?
I do! I follow basically every sports and in winter sports we have great biathletes, they are amazing. I surely will follow them.
If you could compete at Winter Olympics, which sport would you compete for?
Figure skating! I love it and probably that is why I love dancing. I did it when I was young, since when I was 12. I actually would like to do it again.
Thank you for coming here after such a long and tough match. It is very nice to see you again on the WTA tour after a long break, first of all. I guess that when this happens you can look at things, even at a tough loss like today’s, with a different perspective.
Today it was such an heartbreaking loss, half an hour ago I was in the gym crying, but I received so many messages, telling me to think about where I was six months ago, on a couch without the chance to play, and to think where I am now. So even if I lost I have to be happy for what I achieved here. I won two great matches, I showed I can win after three sets, I showed I can fight, I think my serve was great. I need to keep working hard even the season if finishing.
Your off season will be very unusual for sure.
Well [laughter], my season just started actually [laughter] and I have still many tournaments to play. I don’t feel like practicing much in the off season, since I just practiced basically all season long. Now I will play Poitiers, Huahin, Taipei and Dubai. Dubai will be part of my off season… I know it sounds weird [laughter], but it should work like that: you go to the tournament with zero expectation, you work hard even before the matches… and Dubai has also good beaches so… then I will directly go to Australia for 2018 season.
Congratulations Vika, it looks like this place brings out the best of you.
Yeah. Location, organization, that indoor feelings and the surface. Everything is very good and suits me. I am in a good shape and I didn’t think about what I got last year in Linz. I felt pretty good again even if this year I am having a tough season. I was playing good tennis but results didn’t arrive lately, so I am pretty happy to be here again.
I am not feeling the pressure to be finalist of last year. I was even supposed to play qualies here, I entered in main draw as last player in very last moment. I knew I could play good tennis, I needed to think step by step, because if you think big from first round you just don’t play your level. After my first round win I got a lot of confidence, especially cause I lost the first set and I reacted very well to win.
If you can choose one moment, which is the best moment of your season?
Can I answer ‘here’? [laughter] A very good memory is also in Biel, where I won my first round, 7-6 in the third set, against Laura Siegemund. It was a really good win for me. Now I’m playing a lot smoother again, I felt really good after the match point today and so happy. So I would say that Linz is my best memory of this season.
Winter Olympics are coming next February and Switzerland is definitely one of big nation. How is your relationship with winter sports and if you could choose to be at Olympics, which would be the discipline?
I’ve never skied in my life, maybe cause my parents aren’t really Suisse after all [laughter]… I was even never allowed to ski. But I love snow and watching winter sports and skiing. And probably I would like to race in a slalom probably, yeah [laughter].